Last year, the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people received much-deserved international attention. For example, UNICEF dedicated its 2011 State of the World’s Children Report to adolescents, the new executive director of UNFPA proclaimed his commitment to the reproductive health of youth during one of his first public appearances, and the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning dedicated an entire section of the conference program to the topic of youth sexual and reproductive health (YSRH). The renewed commitment to YSRH is refreshing and inspiring, but we probably all agree that more needs to be done.
Adolescents face mounting public health challenges; approximately 5 million young people are currently living with HIV, and childbirth is still the number one cause of death of girls ages 15–19. And yet, most of us working in the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health—whether as professionals, peer educators, or advocates—have a strong sense of strategies for improving YSRH that work, and those that don’t. During the 2011 annual Interagency Youth Working Group (IYWG) meeting, participants discussed strategies that have proven successful, as well as those that have not, and developed a set of recommendations for YSRH donors.
From January 25 to 27, 2012, we will host an online discussion titled, What’s Next? Maintaining the Focus on Youth: A Dialogue with YSRH Donors. This e-forum will be facilitated by representatives from donor organizations that support youth sexual and reproductive health, as well as by young people themselves. The e-forum will provide the opportunity for us to share the strategy recommendations developed at the IYWG meeting as well as to gather additional feedback and suggestions from those of you who were unable to attend the meeting. This is our chance to engage in meaningful conversations with members of donor organizations about how we can maintain the focus on young people and ensure that their SRH needs are met.